The Canadian Museum of Nature – August 19th
Thursday August 19th, 2010 – Team Pickerel Frog
By: Team Pickerel Frog (JunYan Wang, MengQi Xing, David “Beer” Chang, Kimberly Dubarry)
Today we were delighted to wake up to the heavenly smell of freshly baked banana bread, a variety of hand-cut fruit and cereal. As mentioned by the previous teams, the meals at QUBS have been exceptional. Immediately after breakfast, we were all full of energy and ready to begin our day.
This morning we were privileged to visit the Canadian Museum of Nature – Research Faculty located at 1740 Pink Road in Gatineau, Quebec. Roger Bull, an MSc graduate from Queen’s University, along with our professors and TAs arranged for an exclusive tour of 6 collections within the research center. The research team in the museum focuses primarily on the natural sciences. The entire center has a collection totally approximately 10 ½ million specimens,
ranging from diatoms to dinosaurs. Surprisingly, the botany collection is the larger than the insect collection consisting mainly of new world scarabs. The research building originally was divided into separate sites but moved to one main building when space ran out. The new building was constructed 14 years ago containing research labs, collections and all the research resources. This has proved to be a lot more convenient, and makes it much easier for researchers to collaborate and consult with each other.
The 3D Laser Camera was one of the more interesting sections of our visit. It has an advanced laser that uses air to move back and forth across objects such as bones and other specimen parts to scan them. The image is scanned and then transferred to computer software. The software combines several individual scans using related points on the image of the original object to combine it into one complete image. The researchers are able to recreate the objects using a 3D printing system to display in the museum. This technology provides a revolutionary way of analyzing objects and making the specimens more accessible to the public and other researchers.
We also visited the collections for invertebrates, plants, insects, large skeletons, earth sciences, fossil specimen, and the DNA Lab.
In the invertebrate collection, they research conservation issues such as the impact of zebra mussels on freshwater clams. This research is something we have discussed and learned about firsthand in the field course.
A large part of the research in the insect collection focuses on morphological characteristics. Moving forward, it may be beneficial to find efficient methods to collect DNA data of the various specimens. Creating an archive of DNA information will increase our scientific knowledge and definitely be a step in the right direction.
The DNA Lab is where the research center assesses genetic diversity and assists researchers with their molecular analyses. We learned about the importance DNA barcoding, which is a database of genetic information for all specimen. Overall, the research center was a fantastic experience.
After we left the Research Faculty for the Canadian Museum of Nature, we headed for lunch. Majority of the Canadian students ate poutine, beavertails, and maple syrup with the Chinese classmates. We walked down the beautiful streets of downtown Ottawa and perused the market. We moseyed on by Parliament Hill and took pictures from our bus windows. Our bus driver was very comical and was a great tour guide!
Our last destination was the Victoria Memorial Museum Building which is home to the Canadian Museum of Nature. Our blood began to pump faster as we paced through the elegant and elaborate Museum galleries. Today was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Go Team Pickerel Frog!